Anatomy of the Digestive System (cont.)
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The large intestine forms an upside down U over the coiled small intestine. It begins at the lower right-hand side of the body and ends on the lower left-hand side. The large intestine is about 5-6 feet long. It has three parts: the cecum, the colon, and the rectum. The cecum is a pouch at the beginning of the large intestine. This area allows food to pass from the small intestine to the large intestine. The colon is where fluids and salts are absorbed and extends from the cecum to the rectum. The last part of the large intestine is the rectum, which is where feces (waste material) is stored before leaving the body through the anus.
The main job of the large intestine is to remove water and salts (electrolytes) from the undigested material and to form solid waste that can be excreted. Bacteria in the large intestine help to break down the undigested materials. The remaining contents of the large intestine are moved toward the rectum, where feces are stored until they leave the body through the anus as a bowel movement.
Sandeep Mukherjee, MD, MB, BCh
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